While serving as Pastor in the Bronx, I had the privilege of knowing a very devout and prayerful woman. Her name was Virginia. Ginny, as she liked to be called, was a retired nurse. Ninety years young, she never allowed her aches and pains to slow her down. With her walker firmly in hand, Ginny would visit her doctors, stop at the bank and shop at her local grocer. Nevertheless, her favorite event of the week was attending Sunday Mass.
Due to health issues, Virginia became increasingly homebound. Her faith did not waver. Instead, she discovered new ways to stay close to the Lord. Daily listening to the Mass, recitation of the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet prepared her for weekly communion. Ginny was always excited to talk about Jesus and his presence in her life. In fact, every year she would invite friends to her apartment on Divine Mercy Sunday. Following the chaplet at three o’clock, Ginny would remind everyone to…“joyfully trust in the Lord.” Filled with the joy of Easter, she firmly believed that every single day must begin with an act of loving trust in Jesus. The sandwiches, pastries and coffee served afterwards were enjoyed by all too.
The world today is increasingly uncertain. Bad news is seemingly everywhere. The many challenges of the pandemic, economic volatility and a raging war in Ukraine are unsettling to many. Life can become overshadowed and dark. Some may even begin to feel that God is very far away. Fortunately, for us who believe, despair never needs to be the last word.
As we continue to celebrate the joy of Christ’s resurrection, we are all invited to be a people of hope. The disciples themselves experienced great uncertainty in their life. Following the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus, life as they knew it was suddenly shattered. Easter Sunday and the empty tomb changed everything. In the Gospel of John, we read: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’…The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” (Jn 20:19-20) Despite being locked behind closed doors, the appearance of Jesus overwhelmed them with peace, mercy and love. Darkness is vanquished by the light of Christ, then and now.
As we approach Divine Mercy Sunday, may the love of the resurrected Christ renew our faith in good times and bad. The image of Jesus revealed to Saint Faustina includes the inscription “Jesus, I trust in You.” Our Lord invites us to embrace him with childlike love, awe and trust. No matter the obstacles blocking the path of daily life, the wisdom and grace received in word and sacrament are powerful antidotes to negativity and fear.
Ginny was truly devout. The challenges of her daily life were never beyond the power of God’s love and mercy. Despite being called home to God, her words of spiritual encouragement continue to ring true. During this Easter time, let us never give in to despair. Instead, together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, let us “…joyfully trust in the Lord.”